In 1998, we lost my beloved agility and obedience dog, a 3 year old
rescue Dalmatian, named Stormy. While we have several wonderful dogs, our
other dogs are older and retired from competition or have medical problems
that prevent them from being competitive. Stormy was my special friend and
a very talented agility and obedience dog. I was heartbroken and knew that
my competition dreams were lost. A few months after his death, I started
looking for another Dal to compete with, but I felt guilty. I felt as if
we were trying to replace Stormy. But I missed having a dog to compete
I decided if we were to get another dog, it could not be a Dal. I spent
some months researching different types of dogs. I considered several
breeds and finally decided that I wanted a toy breed. As well as the fun
and challenge of training a tiny dog, I thought that a toy dog would be a
great addition to our company of therapy dogs. I narrowed my choices until
I settled on a Papillon.
We have known many Paps through the years, and I thought a Pap would be
just the right dog to share our home. I knew we did not want a small
puppy, partly because I have larger dogs and partly because I wanted to be
sure I had a dog who would want to play agility as much as I do. I decided
to check out rescue because I know firsthand that there are many great
adult dogs in rescue who need homes (I had been involved in Border Collie
rescue for several years at that point).
Well, I applied at the PCA site, and I waited. I looked every week at
the dogs listed online and knew that eventually the right dog for me would
come. I tried to be patient. Finally, Lori Bovee called me to say that
some new dogs had come into rescue, and that 1 or 2 of them might be right
for me. I contacted the foster parent of
these dogs and we talked at
length. She told me that there was a young male named Harley, and that she
thought he might be a good match for us. She checked my references and we
talked several more times, and finally I was approved for adoption.
Harley arrived via airplane to our lives in January 2000. Iíll never
forget walking into the airport to get him in his little hot pink crate. I
let him out and he clung to me as if to say "Finally! Iím
home!" We bonded instantly.
So it was a surprise to us when Harley, having little socialization
with men in his previous life, was a bit afraid of my husband, Merl. He
would bark and run if Merl approached him suddenly, and he didn't want
Merl to hold him. This was hard because Merl wanted to be his buddy, but
lucky for Harley and me, Merl didnít take it personally and waited it
out. He began sharing bits of his dinner with Harley and just ignored him
when he acted silly. It took some time, but these days Harley loves Merl
and thinks the best place to sleep at night is on Merlís head.
I introduced Harley to agility right away and he took to it like a duck
takes to water. He loves jumping and climbing and running. I train with
only positive methods and soon he would start squealing whenever we
approached to agility area.
I applied for his AKC ILP (Indefinite Listing Privilege), a program from
AKC that allows neutered purebred dogs without pedigrees to compete in
performance events) and his NADAC registration, and decided to register
him as HD Dyna Super Glide, which is a model of a Harley motorcycle. A
mere 7 months after he joined our household, Harley entered his first
agility trial. It was a NADAC trial, and while we didnít win all the
classes we entered, we did quite well and we both had a great time. Three
months later we entered an AKC trial where we earned his first qualifying
legs towards his novice titles in standard and jumpers.
In December 2000, we entered for 2 days of the 4-day Crown Classic in
Cleveland. It was an amazing weekend, the entry was huge and the
competition was fierce. Harley was pumped up and flew around the courses,
leaving most of his competition in his dust. We qualified 3 out of 4 runs
with a first place, a second place and a fourth place. He finished his AKC
Novice Jumpers title with that first placement. I was so proud of him.
Later in 2001, I was thrilled to discover just how well we had
performed in Cleveland. Front & Finish ranked Harley as the #1 Novice
Jumpers dog of his breed. It was an amazing feeling seeing your name in
the rankings like that. I wished I could stand up and shout: "Yeah,
and thatís a rescue dog who did that!"
In 2001, Harley and I did not compete too often, as it was a busy year
for me with my new career and a cross-country move, as well as the loss of
our beautiful Siberian Husky to the cancer she had battled for years.
However, he finished his AKC NA title in style with another first place
and earned some NADAC titles as well. Harley also traveled to Orlando,
Florida with us on vacation where he was admired by all for his beauty and
good behavior. 2002 sees us trying for Open agility glory in AKC and NADAC,
discovering USDAA agility, and (hopefully) trying for Harleyís Companion
Dog obedience title.
Everywhere we go, people say they canít believe that such a beautiful
and talented dog could have come from rescue. I use those opportunities to
educate people about the PCA rescue program and about the million of other
great dogs who need new homes, most often through no fault of their own. I
also encourage those who want performance dogs to explore the rescue
option, as many of the dogs who are given up have the very qualities we
look for in a performance dog.
Harley is my best buddy, and I canít imagine my world without him.
goes out to Beth for sharing Harley's Story of inspiration with
Forevr Papillons, & allowing publication on our showpaps.com website.
Danny & Ruth Ann Ford
|Interested in giving a second chance Pap
a Forever Home?
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Pictures and Story Owned by Beth Rasmusson, contact Beth at
for permission to copy.